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Beating the Odds

Chronicle of the Horse

November 26, 2004

When Rebecca Diesinger, from Coopersburg, Pa., first saw Dollar Spot in September 1999, the then 8-year-old, Thoroughbred gelding was a disgusting mass of skin, bones and fungus. The race horse rescue organization Lost and Found from York, Pa., had saved the gelding from the slaughter truck and sent him to Diesinger’s trainer and employer, Jane Corey, who often rehabilitated rescue horses either for resale or for use in the lesson program at her Pleasant Hollow Farm.

Corey gave Diesinger, a fledgling low-level eventer who had ridden in her first beginner novice event two years earlier, the ride on “Dollar.” “I just wanted her to bring Dollar along to the point where he’d be a safe lesson horse,” said Corey.

So Corey paid Lost and Found an $800 adoption fee for the Maryland-bred gelding by Electric Blue and helped Diesinger nurse him back to health.

Diesinger, now 25, and Dollar began competing at novice and training level later that season and moved up to preliminary during 2001. Dollar often jumped in an unorthodox fashion, leaving strides out with abandon. “But he was brave as could be and never blinked an eye at anything,” recalled Corey.

During 2002, Diesinger and Dollar finished 10th in their first three-day, the Virginia CCI* in May, then moved up to intermediate and finished 39th at the Radnor Hunt CCI** (Pa.) in October. Despite the pair’s meteoric rise through the ranks, Diesinger expressed only a cautious optimism about their future.

“Dollar had an old injury from his racing days, and we really didn’t have any idea how far he would go,” Diesinger said. “It was simply a matter of, well, we did preliminary so I guess we should try intermediate. I had never competed at such high levels, but Dollar did so well, there seemed no reason not to go on with him.”

Corey, who had campaigned her own Tuppence at advanced in the 1980s, recognized the pair’s potential. “Rebecca is a great student; she’s focused and works incredibly hard,” Corey said. “We kept Dollar at preliminary a long time so he could get his bearings. As the questions came up, then got more difficult as he progressed, he just kept answering them.”

Corey enlisted the help of her long-time trainer and friend, Bruce Davidson, for additional jumping help as Diesinger and Dollar continued to climb the ranks.

The fairy tale continued to unfold when, in the spring of 2003, the pair placed fifth in their first advanced outing at Fair Hill International Horse Trials (Md.).

But Dollar abscessed in the summer, causing him to miss most of the season. Then, returning to advanced competition at Plantation Field (Pa.) in September, Dollar badly twisted an ankle.

“That’s the only time he ever stopped,” said Diesinger. “We knew something was really wrong.”

Although Dollar returned to work in the spring, Corey and Diesinger opted not to compete him until the Stuart CIC** (N.Y.) in July of 2004. “We just held our breath that he’d hold up,” said Diesinger.

The pair returned to advanced at Over the Walls (Mass.) in August and completed Millbrook (N.Y.) and Menfelt (Md.) before heading to the Fair Hill CCI in October.

Walking the cross-country track, Diesinger remembered thinking, “Can we really do this? Every fence on the course seemed to me like the very hardest questions we’d seen at horse trials, all combined. I was really worried about the length and terrain, too.”

Diesinger and Dollar rose to the challenge, their cross-country score marred only by 20 penalties at fence 22, a steep uphill bank to a corner. “It was my inexperience. I just didn’t think fast enough,” said Die-singer. “He tripped up the bank and couldn’t get to the corner. I should have pulled him out and gone the long way.”

Still, finishing 37th seems pretty remarkable for a horse headed for the slaughter-house and a rider who had only gone beginner novice five years before.

“He’s just awesome,” Diesinger said of Dollar. “He’s just such a good, honest jumper, and he’s so good-natured. We just help each other out. I’d had dreams of going advanced, but I never thought it would happen this quickly.”

And the future? Corey and Diesinger will work out their plan for Dollar’s 2005 campaign, as always, one step at a time.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Summer permalink
    May 3, 2013 6:17 pm

    Rebecca you and dollar were a great team!!!! I always looked up to you! I am so glad that you are pursuing your dream!!!!

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